Monday, 19 June 2017

Sunbathing between feeds

While on my visit to Keswick to spend some time with friend Les, I always have a wonder round the Isthmus to see whats about. The Isthmus by the way is like a small peninsular of land jutting out into Derwentwater, and is covered with a variety of mainly deciduous trees. It is completely open to the public and it is criss crossed with footpaths, some bordering the lake. It is home to the Keswick Launch company work shops, where all repairs are undertaken, and new rowing boats are built there, the whole area is owned by the National trust, as is a lot of land in the valley of  Borrowdale.

Typical of the trees on the Isthmus, photo from a previous Autumn.
another part of the woodland.

and taken a few winters back, a view of the Isthmus from the boat landings, with Grisedale Pike covered in snow in the background.

Anyway to get back to the present, on a wonder ! the first thing I came across was this female Blackbird taking a break from feeding her family.

When I say taking a break, she was actually sunbathing.

Sunbathing when there is a family to feed

Some would say she's not sunbathing, she's warming the food, sorry I'm not buying that, she is just being  lazy.

A close up reveals a variety of food including a worm trying to escape over the top of her beak.
More from Derwentwater next time.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Keswick, Derwentwater.

Derwentwater, situated at the Northern end of the Lake District National Park North West England. It sits in the valley of Borrowdale, and is inextricably linked to the market town of Keswick
Mountains rise on nearly all sides, the lower slops of which are covered in mainly Oak woods with a mix of Silver Birch (Betula pendula), Hawthorn (Cartaegus), Alder (Alnus). Mountain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia),Hazel (Corylus avellana ), and a sprinkling of others. Some areas have been planted artificially with Spruce and Larch, and in such plantings particularly Spruce there is very little wildlife due to the fact that there is hardly any light penetration, so no undergrowth.
     The lake its self is approximately 3 miles in length by about one and a half mile wide at its widest,  and roughly just over 70 feet deep. In 1975 I swam it at its widest part, and was gearing up to attempt the length of it , when the weather changed bringing heavy rain and with it a rapid drop in water temperature.
   I've always considered it to be my favourite out of all the lakes, and it is certainly the most picturesque of the lakes.  From 1974 to 1982  I was lucky enough to live right by the shore of the lake at a place called Derwent Bay, which is on the private estate of Lingholm,(owned at the time by Lord Rochdale) near the village of Portinscale, on the west side of the lake, they are memorable years.
 
Greylag geese (Anser anser) and young.
It was an idyllic place to live, surrounded by wildlife. there are woodlands on three sides of the house, and  open views to and across the lake. From my kitchen window I could watch ducks and geese on the lake, and also shore birds, waders and wagtails. Then there was all the woodland birds, and Roe deer , Foxes, Badgers, again Fox and Roe deer regularly seen from the house, not to mention Red squirrels, as many as six different individuals coming to the feeder at my kitchen window, and a Heronry at the back  of the house.

One of the Greylag goslings
My mate Les was born at  Derwent Bay in the house I ended up living in, his Farther built a new house across the yard. We soon became friends and over the years good mates, and we very often reminisce about those years at the Bay, good years, happy times mostly.
 

All enjoying the sun.

Keeping an eye on the lake traffic.

Time for a rest.
Les hard at work, launch driving, HARD ?

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The last of Cornwall & a dip into Devon

The last of the photos from Cornwall taken from Tintagel head. After fighting our way up the second set of stone steps, (which by the way almost face the first set ,previous post) we came out onto a beautiful undulating area covered with grasses and sedges, with the occasional wet area, the views where stunning, two photos in the previous post are taken from the top. A few Gulls appeared from the cliffs now and then, but I was more interested in the little brown flitty thing my Daughter had spotted, it turned out to be -----


Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)


Meadow Pipit, and not only that but.

The pair were feeding young.
They are generally a bird of the uplands  and moorland building there nest in thick grass or heather, and usually lay 4-5 eggs and very often two broods. This a good thing as they are one of the favourite nests to be parasitized by the Cuckoo, it laying its egg in the nest. The newly hatched chick will then push out of the nest any Pipit eggs or young , and the Pipit parents rear it as one of their own.
    It is also  the pray bird for other upland birds such as Merlin and Hen Harrier, so yes two broods is good.

So who is this food for Pipit or young Cuckoo, its difficult, we like both birds.
We left Tintagel and headed along the coast calling at Port Isaac  , better known to millions of people around the world as Portwenn the home of Doc Martin the TV series, sadly only my Daughter took photos , and yes they are still on her camera.
    Our last port of call was a little village in Devon called Clovelly, and the straw that broke the camels back.

Main street Clovelly, in fact the only street Clovelly.
The steepest street in England is in Bristol, this however must  run a close second, as can be seen it is a narrow cobbled pedestrianised street. On approaching the village traffic is directed to two car parks one for locals and one for tourists, which are channelled towards a ticket booth and tourist shop. locals use their car park where they unload their shopping, load it onto a sledge (if there is too much to carry) and set off down the street.
   The village is privately owned and all tourist money goes to the upkeep of the village, at the bottom of the street is a beautiful harbour.

View from the end of the cobbled part of the street, but as can be seen its still a long way down to the harbour

Again terrific views.

Looking back up towards to top of the street well hidden amongst the trees.
And so after some lunch and a rest we set off back up the street, my Daughter exploring the occasional little off shoot alleyway, while I just kept plodding, eventually reaching the top and badly in need of oxygen.
                                                   THE END.
 PS.  and I'm still wearing an elastic bandage on my knee three weeks later for my effort.
     

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Tintagel, Cornwall

After our short visit to St. Just we move on to Tintagel. Here we had booked into The Cornishman Inn, without doubt my favourite of all the B&Bs we stayed in throughout the trip. A good friendly pub atmosphere, excellent friendly bar staff, and also good food. As a bonus they allowed us to leave the car on their car park while we went on a wonder to the castle ruins etc, which was good of them considering we were only booked in for one night.
  And so the following morning we set off for the castle (or I should say a pile of stones) as far as castle ruins go this is definitely the bottom of the pile,(yet another pun) we have better castle ruins here in Penrith ,and they are not much. Its a long steep decent to the ticket/entrance/tourist shop, I was having none of it and let my Daughter walk down while I paid £2 for a ride down in a landrover, and similarly for the return trip (although by then the damage had been done)
   After leaving the ticket area we continued onto a stone walkway for a few yards before turning sharp left and onto a stone staircase set into a cliff. I have since said to friends if you visit said place make sure you take your climbing gear with you, a little exaggeration, maybe, but it was almost vertical.
   On summiting, with now wonky knees, I left the pretty one to wonder off in search of ruins, while I pursued a more profitable venture, I found some birds !!!.

Just beyond a wall (built to stop tourist from trying out free falling) I found these Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis)  
Fulmars, one had just flown in and its mate was on a nest.
Fulmar on nest.
Having seen all we wanted to see on top of the first head of land, we then had to descend all the stone stairs, (not good for anyone who doesn't have a head for heights) to get to the wooden stepped bridge, this crosses a gaping drop to the second head of land, where believe it or not another steep stone staircase to get to the top of the head. It was also very narrow , so there was a certain amount of congestion. But the views.

Didn't want to change lenses so these are with the big lens.
The weather was definitely on our side this day.
What did I find on top of the second head ? I'll show you in the next post.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Cornwall, Rick Stein reaches out to new customers

And so the road trip continues, after leaving St. Ives I persuaded the good looking one to call in at RSPB Hale estuary and the near by area, as this is another top birding site for Cornwall, really, at first glance not a bird in sight, we walk round to the hide , obviously this is where all the action will be, do I detect a sneer on the good looking ones face as she asks "are you sure this is the right place" we  find nothing from the hide, the only movement being the clouds overhead. We leave the hide and a few  yards down the track meet a fellow birder, anything about I ask , no haven't seen a thing says he with his waking great lens, you are about to says I , there's  a Heron behind you, and it was true, about twenty yards down the track a Heron had just landed by a ditch and was going into stalking mode. The gentleman set off at a pace to grab some shots as if this was the only bird left on the planet , and he had to prove there had been one, at this point we headed back to the car, my Daughter muttering something about "I thought there was suppose to be loads of birds here" , I just got in the car and waited for the engine to start, and added Heron to a very short list of birds I had seen.
                  We gave Newquay a miss preferring to avoid as many tourists as possible, and called in at Padstow instead. Now for those that don't know, Padstow is home to one of Rick Stein's fish restaurants (He has a few) He being a famous TV chef and personality. We walked by his place but kept hold of our money , we needing it more than He, but apparently He gives some of His clientele free handouts. ------------


Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) and Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus) who is going to get to the goodies first.

The verbal sparing starts to build.

Someone called for back-up but it didn't work out.

There can only be one winner.

Welcome to Rick Stein's my friend, enjoy.
The next port of call did my knee in , stay tooned!!.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Moving along the Cornish coast.

The journey continued with us leaving Land's End and heading up the coast  calling in briefly at St. Just before heading for St. Ives. where I found the following.

Begging Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris)


Starling

Starling

My new best friend the Starling
St. Ives harbour

A place of shelter for the fishing boats
St, Ives is a lovely place, very picturesque, the downside , its very touristy, lots of people about , and the holiday season hadn't really started when we where there. definitely would not want to be there in summer at the height of the season.

 Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) almost full adult.

We were warned before going to St. Ives about the gulls attacking tourist in an effort to snatch any food people are eating, but none of them bothered us, maybe because we had no food.

Herring Gull.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Land's End Cornwall, and we thought it was.!!

After leaving the Lizard peninsular area we headed off to our next port of call.  Any sun that had been struggling to show its face had definitely given up the cause, and was completely obliterated by low cloud. We headed for Marazion, and here we had always planned to do different things for the remainder of the day. The good looking one would visit St Michael's Mount, while I would go birding at Marazion Marsh. So on arrival at the marsh, my Daughter dropped me off complete with day sac, camera and tripod, she headed back to St. Michael's Mount car park, and had timed the tide right, she would be able to get to the mount by walking the causeway in her wellies. I could still see the car disappearing down the road as the first few heavy spots of rain began bouncing on my head. Undaunted I set off onto the reserve in an optimistic mood.
    The reserve comes under the umbrella (pardon the pun) of the RSPB, in fact its their most Southerly reserve, and has a large area of reed bed. I found the first footpath and set off to see what was about, just as I did a little brown flitty thing (this is my Daughters stock description when trying to explain what she has seen, it was a little brown flitty thing) caught my eye but quickly disappeared into a patch of thorn bush, so no ID there. Now the rain was really beginning to make its presence felt, I plodded on trying fool myself into thinking overhanging trees would keep the bulk of the rain off me, they didn't.
   Long story short, I covered most of the reserve and the only bird I saw (apart from the little brown flitty thing) was a Swan, which looked as miserable as I felt, as by now I am soaked through.
  I decided to head for the St. Michael's car park in the hope I might find some shelter, but there was only a small tea room, which was so tiny three people would fill it. By now the wind was blowing a hooley driving the rain horizontally, so I stood by the North side of the tea room waiting for my Daughter to return.
    When she did, she said she had enjoyed the Mount, but the walk back across the causeway had been a bit hairy because of the wind.
     We had already booked our B&B for the night in Marazion, so  that's where we headed , for warm showers and to try and get our gear dried out.

The famous Land's End signpost.
The following morning we left Marazion and headed for Land's End, driving through the beautiful village of Mousehole on the way, not the kind of place you would want to visit in the tourist season, as the streets are so narrow.
    Shortly after leaving Mousehole the fog rolled in and driving became hazardous, at first we thought we would drive out of it but we didn't, and in fact from that point on we didn't see a thing for two and a half days, welcome to Cornwall.
    We finally arrived at Land's End, and then had to pay an extortionate price for the privilege of parking there. The fog was so bad we could only see a about half a dozen cars distant on the car park. we decided to sit in the car and see if the fog would lift, we got quite excited at one point because we began to see buildings appearing, only for them to disappear again, leaving us nothing to look at but the nearest cars.
       
Jackdaw.

Again there was a bit of a break in the fog, so we made a move, and it stayed reasonably clear just long enough to get a few photos.

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)

The outlying rocks of Land's End.

Cormorants on distant rocks.

Adding to a nest somewhere on the cliffs, don't know where we never saw them.